5 Squadron RNZAF Association

Chairman’s Message to 2016 AGM

The Association is strong with 537 current members on the database, 520 of them with email addresses for easy contact.  It is good to exchange messages through the year and to receive a steady trickle of new registrations, contributions and enquiries via the website. Sadly, we also have a few notifications every year about former members who have passed away, and we make an effort to keep our Last Post pages up to date for your information.  I send a condolence message on your behalf whenever practicable and invariably receive a warm response.  Service on 5 Squadron, and in the RNZAF, counts highly in most members’ life experiences.  This year we lost at least seven good men who represented service from the earliest days of the Catalina Squadron in the Pacific, through the Sunderland years and over many years of P-3 Orion operations.  We honour their memories and continue to feel kindly towards their surviving families.  

The association’s website is excellently maintained by Pete Culpan culp@paradise.net.nz and has a wide selection of news, reference material and links to a great many useful sites. The website is used by viewers from all corners of the globe and an occasional explore is well worthwhile.  People also use it to keep current links with air force and defence publications. news clippings and Facebook pages for the latest happenings. Current articles by squadron members are always appreciated.

The squadron has enjoyed a good year of operations and training with the P-3K2, and the completion of the second OCC has added a newly-qualified crew of two pilots, three AWOs and eight AWS to the strength.

Nearly half of its flying hours this year, and over 100 missions, were consumed by Operation TAKAPU in the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean. The pressure of extended deployments on those crews, and their families at home, has been very bravely borne. We understand, and respect, their service and dedication. Some of their successes and well-earned operational commendations from allied forces have been well publicised but we all know that these successes depend so much on the dedication and singular skills of a very few loyal men and women.  I doubt the politicians have ever understood this tenous nature of New Zealand’s superb reputation in maritime operations.

Tasked patrols (for MPI / Fisheries and Customs) have been conducted routinely in New Zealand waters, and 150 hours flown on SAR missions in addition to occasional South Pacific deployments and participation in Exercise BERSAMA SHIELD in Malaysia, submarine-based GUAMEX with the USN and a bi-annual engagement ROKKIWI in the Republic of Korea. The squadron also hosted two visits of a Falcon 200 Guardian and crew from Forces Armees de Nouvelle-Caledonie, and a P-3C from 11 Squadron RAAF.

As 11 Squadron is soon to be re-equipped with a mix of manned P-8A Poseidon aircraft and unmanned MQ-4C Tritons it will be interesting to observe to the effectiveness, in this region, of an operational model currently being considered by the RNZAF.

The squadron knows we are proud to support the unit in any endeavour where our members can be of assistance.  The joint celebrations of the squadron’s 75th birthday and the 50th anniversary of P-3 Orions entering RNZAF service will take place on 23 and 24 September 2016. We will be actively involved so please keep an eye on the website www.5sqnassn.org.nz for information and developments.  The Laucala Bay Memorial project is very much alive in Defence HQ but firm details await the outcome of further political discussion.  I will do my best to keep us all informed of progress. But I can report that members’ contributions to Bee Dawson’s book on the history of RNZAF units in Fiji have made for a first-class  story. The book is nearing publication.

Gordon Ragg AFC JP

Chairman                                                                                                                     23 February 2016